Sometimes, grief is just as strong when those you loved and lost are still alive.
It is natural for people to drift apart. Whether it be from distance, time, or a change in ideologies. However, when you are cut out of someone's life and given no explanation, a whole new form of loss develops. There is no closure, no answers to your questions. Ultimately, you are forced to sort through the mess and wonder exactly what happened and how you got there. Confusion bubbles into frustration. So many questions buzz through your head until you start to question your own sanity.
What exactly caused this?
Why exactly is she mad?
What exactly did I do to deserve this?
You can replay conversations over and over looking for answers. You can meticulously comb through every past detail until you turn blue. You can blame yourself or blame her. In complete honesty though, you may never know exactly why you lost your friend. Sometimes, you just have to accept that many things are out of your control. With that being said, allow yourself time to grieve because it truly is a loss.
Losing a friend is comparable with losing a life partner. You shared everything from clothes to secrets. And just like breaking up, losing a friend can come with confusion, grief, and heartache. You find yourself scrolling through old pictures remembering every detail of that night in the bar. You read old text messages and Facebook posts from your “forever friend”. You struggle to move on and accept your new life. Something happens, happy or sad, and you still have the urge to call your best friend. All the while, the hole in your heart grows wider and more vacant. Every day is a constant reminder of your lost friendship.
Losing a friend is heartbreaking. Knowing she still exists and living her life happily is like reliving your pain day after day. Seeing her latest Instagram post with all her best friends next-on-the-list hurts tremendously. You were her therapist, her caretaker, and her closest companion. You know the truth. You know that the only reason she is sharing vodka sodas with girlfriend X, Y, and Z is because she is lost and lonely. At least you hope. You hope she will not replace you. You hope it was not easy for her to leave you. You pray that the girl you loved has a heart and that she is grieving too. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell.
Losing a friend teaches you a lot. When you gain some distance from your best friend, you begin to see the flaws in your friendship. It becomes clear exactly how unevenly balanced it was. You recall all the times you cooked her dinner when she had $1.50 in her bank account. You reflect on all the late night phone calls talking about her parents’ divorce. The unconditional, judgement-free, 24/7 love you gave. With all the extra time on your hands, you start keeping score. The day your dog died and she never called. The unanswered text messages when you had a bad day. The rejected invitations and the myriad of excuses. You start to realize that she was only there for you when it was convenient for her.
After your period of grieving, you should take one thing from this experience: Losing a friend is not your fault. Seriously, it is not your fault. The day you stop blaming yourself for the actions of others is the day you are free. Free yourself from second guessing and low self-esteem. Grow a thicker layer of skin and understand that sometimes shit happens. People go crazy. People change. People are selfish. People abandon you. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it is devastating at times. Yes, you should grieve for as long as you need. But, ultimately, it is not your fault. The cruel intentions and actions of others are not a reflection of you. However, your reaction absolutely reflects your character. Look back on your friendship with peace of mind, not bitterness. No matter how shitty people treat you, all you can do is be kind. Be a good friend, even with the possibility of abandonment looming. Never let the maltreatment from others change you. You cannot control people, but you can control how they affect you. Learn from it. Grow from it. Never stop being a good friend, because, eventually, good friends will come and they will stay.
I remember watching Cinderella when I was a little girl and admired the beautiful girl swept off her feet with the help of a little magic and some killer shoes. I dreamed of wearing a ball gown and meeting my Prince Charming. He would be handsome, romantic, and—well, naturally—charming. I have lived my whole life believing in fairytales. When I grew out of princess movies, I moved on to romantic comedies. I watched as every leading lady found her happily-ever-after. She got everything she ever wanted: a man and true love. They got engaged or married shortly after the on-screen kiss. It was a perfect ending to a perfect love story.
However, it is these dreams that turned my 20’s into a nightmare.
I have only now begun to realize that these movies are selling lies. I have spent twenty-two years waiting for love-at-first-sight. And you know what, I could wait fifty more years and would still need glasses to find it. Even Prince William does not fit the Disney mold (and he is a real-life prince). The man depicted in every princess movie is merely a character created to boost societal gender roles. He does not exist. The sooner we realize this, the happier we will be.
A man does not have to be a prince for him to treat a woman like a princess.
Media representations of love create impossible expectations. They present a vision of what love is “supposed” to look like. It is supposed to be chivalrous, romantic, and passionate. The strong and suitable man is supposed to save damsels in distress. A white horse is supposed to make for a happily-ever-after, storybook ending. Unfortunately, this type of love exists only there: a storybook. When we spend our entire lives waiting for a perfect man, we miss out on a man with the greatest component of all: imperfection.
I constantly sabotage my own happiness with the impossible standards I create. I find myself hoping that everything about him will be perfect. He will walk the walk and talk the talk. I need to stop comparing every man I meet with an idealized version; ultimately, men are going to do whatever the hell they want. I am the one that needs to change.
Love will never look or feel like it does in the movies.
Even though this shortcoming of mine roots back to media representations of love, I must learn to overcome it. I need to retrain my brain to be more open and accepting of others’ flaws. I am truly tired of everyone not living up to my impossible expectations. The day I can start accepting people for all their imperfections will be a freeing day. Freeing me from all the disappointment and shattered hopes.
With all this being said, Disney has not completely failed me. If I have gained any insight over the years it would be to always fall for the beast. If you can learn to look past all his beastly imperfections, eventually, he will turn into his own version of a prince.